A Look at the Career Highs of Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida
Both Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida have enjoyed amazing success in this unforgiving sport. They’ve climbed to the peak of the mountain, enjoyed the rewarding air and offered fans too many amazing fights to count.
Easily two of the most accomplished combatants in the game today, Henderson and Machida deserve every bit of acclaim to come their way.
Considering the two will clash at UFC 157, with designs on a title fight with champion Jon Jones, it seemed only appropriate to retrace some of their finest in-cage performances. These guys put on a show, and these lists will only support that statement!
Henderson has been competing since the primitive days—we’re talking way back in 1997. The man has won three single-night tournaments and toppled a who’s who of elite opponents.
From Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to Renato Sobral to Murilo Bustamante to Vitor Belfort to Fedor Emelianenko to...Well, you see where I’m going with this. “Hendo” has never avoided a fight. He’s battled the best and defeated a great number of them in the process.
The fact that he’s arguably better than ever at 42 years old is amazing. Injuries seem to be catching up to him, finally, but chances are he’s still got a few dynamic performances in the tank.
Hendo vs. Newton (UFC 17: Redemption)
I won’t lie to you: I believed Carlos Newton won this match that occurred some 15 years ago. Somehow a still one-dimensional Henderson managed to grind his way to a victory, claiming the evening’s tournament title.
It wasn’t always pretty, but Hendo did just enough to convince the judges he’d earned the fight.
Hendo vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Rings: King of Kings 1999 Final)
Dan Henderson was defying the odds way back in 2000. The natural 200-pounder met heavyweight stud Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Rings King of Kings 1999 Final, and it was an awfully interesting match.
Both men had their moments, and while this is still considered a controversial decision, in the end, it was Dan Henderson who edged the future Pride and UFC interim champion on the cards.
Razor thin or not, it was an amazing accomplishment for the undersized Henderson.
Hendo vs. Chonan (Pride: Bushido 9)
Henderson’s victory wasn’t one to go down in the ranks of most scintillating and competitive in history. Let’s be honest: Ryo Chonan was thoroughly outgunned.
What makes this fight so relevant is the fact that it was the first time Henderson looked to truly believe in the power of his overhand right. He looked comfortable, he looked fluid and when he launched that fight-ending punch, we witnessed the official rebirth of an already incredible competitor.
Hendo vs. Belfort (Pride 32: The Real Deal)
There were some ups and downs to this match, but through it all, it was Dan Henderson who remained two steps ahead of the dangerous Belfort.
A wealth of this fight was spent on the ground, with both Henderson and Belfort having some shining moments and stellar sweeps. Down the stretch, however, it was Hendo who had just a bit more in the tank, and he edged “The Phenom” on the cards to secure another top-notch victory.
Hendo vs. Silva (Pride 33: Second Coming)
Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva tangled twice under the Pride banner. The first encounter saw “The Axe Murderer” emerge victorious via unanimous decision. The second fight, however, was completely different.
These two slugged wildly in the rematch, both hurting each other on more than one occasion. But it was a spinning backfist from Henderson that signaled a drastic swing in momentum. Moments later, a right-left hook combo caught Silva on the chin, and it was lights out. The perfect conclusion to a thrilling bout.
Hendo vs. Bisping (UFC 100: Lesnar vs. Mir 2)
I don’t think I need to speak too thoroughly on this one.
These two coached opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter. Michael Bisping kept his mouth running, and Henderson kept calm, likely praying for their encounter to arrive. When it did, Hendo made the best of it.
His stunning one-punch knockout of Bisping is one of the most violent stoppages in history. Just watch it; you’ll agree.
Hendo vs. Emelianenko (Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Henderson)
Not many gave Dan Henderson a chance at beating the greatest heavyweight to ever compete in mixed martial arts. But Dan’s a dude with surprises to spring, and he had something special tucked away for this fight.
Fast-paced violence ensued from the first second, and it failed to subside for 4:12. Both men hurt each other on numerous occasions, but it was Henderson who gained the upper hand. After a wild scramble, Henderson found himself in position to throw an unorthodox uppercut to a grounded Emelianenko, and the Russian went (briefly) stiff.
The fight was over, and Henderson had picked up his greatest career victory.
Hendo vs. Rua (UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson)
These two warriors put on one of the greatest shows the sport has ever seen. For five rounds, these men gave every ounce of their being in search of an explosive finish.
Henderson was dynamite early, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was determined late. An incredibly close fight with too many highlight-reel moments to isolate, Henderson vs. Rua will likely remain one of the greatest fights in history.
“The Dragon” is a superstar for numerous reasons. He’s battered some seriously dangerous opponents, he fights using a very unorthodox karate stance and he’s the best counterstriker the sport has ever seen.
Machida’s fight IQ is nearly unrivaled in this business, and his calm, respectful demeanor has left him an endearing character to fans worldwide. When Machida steps into the cage, he performs admirably. He’s not an antagonizing fighter, and sportsmanship runs in his blood. The man is just a quality human being, on all levels.
Having now carved out a place in MMA history, “The Dragon” is a name fans will remember years from now. He’s the ideal martial artists, and it’s tough to find any emotion related to Machida other than admiration.
Machida vs. Franklin (Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003: Inoki Festival)
When Machida and Rich Franklin met in 2003, both were relatively green. Franklin offered a valiant effort in battering the already-recognizable Machida, but ultimately it would be The Dragon who landed a sharp left hand that stunned the American, creating an opening for Machida to pounce and finish in the second frame.
It was an early signature victory for Machida, and one that still stumbles into the occasional highlight reel.
Machida vs. Ortiz (UFC 84: Ill Will)
Outside of one hairy moment in which Lyoto found himself ensnared in a dangerous triangle choke, The Dragon handily outworked the former light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz.
As a whole, the fight wasn’t all too competitive. Machida was just too fast and far too elusive for Ortiz to mount much offense. But boy did he get punished for his attempts. Check out the attached video, which features that memorable knee!
Machida vs. Silva (UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn 2)
At the point that Machida met Thiago Silva inside the Octagon at UFC 94, Silva was being tagged the brightest prospect in the division. The man had already strung together four consecutive stoppages inside the Octagon and sported an unbeaten record of 13-0.
That failed to intimidate The Dragon. Machida fought methodically, calculating every move. When the opening presented itself with just seconds remaining in the first round, Machida pounced.
Machida vs. Evans (UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida)
Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans should have been a mesmerizing back-and-forth affair that left viewers on the edge of their seats. What it actually was, was a sinister beatdown administered by Machida.
Evans failed to find his range, failed to make proper adjustments and ultimately, failed in defending an incredibly memorable flurry from Machida. It took less than two rounds for Machida to create an immortal piece of footage and a lingering nightmare for Evans.
Machida vs. Rua (UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun)
The first meeting between these two was controversial to say the least. Shogun hammered the legs of Machida, while Machida countered with punches and knees.
It was a close fight that ultimately went in Machida’s favor. While many will swear to the high heavens that Machida lost that bout, on the books it’s a win.
Machida vs. Couture (UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields)
The world had begun to notice Randy Couture’s physical decline toward the end of his career. Yet for some reason, Joe Silva thought it would be a fine idea to pair the fading warrior with young knockout artist Lyoto Machida.
The outcome wasn’t pretty.
Lyoto brought a vicious halt to the contest in 6:05. After plenty of jockeying for position, Machida launched a flying front kick to the face of “The Natural.” Not only did it land, it landed in dramatic fashion, flooring Couture in a movie-like (how fitting) sequence of events.
Machida added one more victim to the highlight reel, and Couture lost a tooth.
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